Robots! Fear Not!
Written by Lucy Black   
Sunday, 25 February 2018

Boston Dynamics has a new video of SpotMini trying to open a door. I say trying because the twist in this case is that a human is trying to stop the door being opened. Open warfare between man and machine? Watch to see what happens.




And no robots were harmed, much, in the making of this video, so feel free to view without fear - not sure about the humans though:



What's going on?

For a welcome change, Boston Dynamics explains quite a lot. The robot is steered to the door by a human with a control panel. Next the command to open the door is given and from that moment on the robot is autonomous. So what the other human is doing is providing a disturbance to test the robustness of the control algorithm:

"A camera in the hand finds the door handle, cameras on the body determine if the door is open or closed and navigate through the doorway. Software provides locomotion, balance and adjusts behavior when progress gets off track. The ability to tolerate and respond automatically to disturbances like these improves successful operation of the robot."

The Boston Dynamic's commentary ends with:

Note: This testing does not irritate or harm the robot.

Now is this tongue in cheek or a helpful comment for  viewers who really are out of touch with robotics and think that perhaps SpotMini is sentient? Of course, I know for a fact that SpotMini is about as sentient as a microwave oven, even though this doesn't stop me talking to said oven as it heats my lunch.

Even so, I still get a funny feeling watching this Boston Dynamic's video. Then it dawned on me that is was the same feeling I get when watching most of Boston Dynamic's videos.

Randall Munroe of xkcd fame seems to be of the same opinion because a recent post sums it up more or less perfectly:



Click for larger image
More cartoon fun at xkcd a webcomic of romance,sarcasm, math, and language

So fear not small robot, we are here to protect you - or not..




Whatever you do, don't miss the hover-over text in the xkcd cartoon. It is perhaps the deepest and most profound thing you will read this year, possibly ever, about robots and evil that AI might do.

More Information

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 25 February 2018 )